January is National Mentoring Month and time to recognize the powerful influence a mentor can have on a young person…often lasting a lifetime.  Mentors come in all types – education mentors, life mentors, peer mentors and more. We find that our students from challenging home lives need someone who believes in them and that they admire and want to emulate. Carla D. found a mentor in her culinary arts teacher.

Carla grew up with a single mother in a poor and unstable home. Her previous high school was not a good experience for her. She is intelligent and likes learning, but her curiosity for learning was not matched with motivated and encouraging teachers. “It was different when I got to Learn4Life,” explained Carla. “All the teachers have helped me in ways they don’t even know. They encourage my questions and desire to explore new things at school. They’re flexible and have my best interest at heart. That’s something I didn’t experience at my other schools.”

She signed up for a career technical education course in culinary arts and absolutely loved it. “My Chef Shanel Burnias has been someone I look up to and strive to impress,” Carla said.  “I spent a lot of time with her during the pandemic and no matter what she never stopped rooting for me, and I have her to thank for inspiring me to make life-changing decisions.”

With a flexible school schedule, Carla was able to work and get her financial situation more stable. Her teachers and counselors helped her find the wraparound services she needed so she could focus on her education. “They have provided me with so many resources and materials to get back on my feet and work hard toward graduation. Even my financial situation has greatly improved, just due to the support I get from attending school,” she added. “My future holds a culinary career and I want my own house or apartment.”

Written By:
Ann Abajian